2020

Oral Questions by Officers:

 

APPG on Drones and Modern Conflict Co-Chair asks Secretary of State if he will condemn the breaking of international law by US due to the General Soleimani

 

7th January, 2020

Stewart McDonald MP, APPG on Drones and Modern Conflict Co-Chair, asked the Secretary of State if he will ‘mount the most robust and unapologetic defence of international law and order?’ The Secretary of State replied that they support the ‘inherent right of a nation to defend itself.’

 

Read the full question here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2020-01-07/debates/BB5857A1-081F-483A-9E58-E22BEBCBA673/details#contribution-6541659C-57B8-449E-9FAC-DE1139B0C1BE

 

 

APPG on Drones and Modern Conflict Vice-Chair asks about Government’s work in reducing nuclear capabilities

 

25th November, 2020

Baroness Smith of Newnham APPG on Drones and Modern Conflict Vice-Chair, asked in the House of Lords ‘what work the Government are doing to take us down the nuclear ladder and reduce the amount of nuclear capabilities..’. The Minister, Baroness Goldie, replied ‘the United Kingdom believes that the non-proliferation treaty not only offers focus but is a treaty entered into by all the nuclear states.’

 

Read the full question here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2020-11-25/debates/C82D5D15-28A3-4A06-BD9C-610B3F01C74A/details#contribution-FC1ABDE0-79E2-47E5-B81E-51021647783B

 

 

APPG on Drones and Modern Conflict Vice-Chair asks how the Government will budget defence spending and improve procurement

 

23rd November, 2020

Baroness Smith of Newnham APPG on Drones and Modern Conflict Vice-Chair, asked in the House of Lords ‘how the Government intends to avoid “squandering billions” and how they will improve defence procurement?’. The Minister, Baroness Evans of Bowes Park, replied that the Government has a ‘number of projects that we will move forward across the Navy in particular but also with the RAF and others.’ and that they have a ‘very ambitious plan focused on using new technologies, AI, our new National Cyber Force and space’.

Read the full question here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2020-11-23/debates/45586D7C-1728-46A1-8185-F8094D39CD47/details#contribution-BD498A3D-23FC-4B1C-8A6B-EC9384CD9674

 

 

 

APPG on Drones and Modern Conflict Vice-Chair asks about the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen’s misuse of weaponry

 

10th July, 2020

Baroness Smith of Newnham APPG on Drones and Modern Conflict Vice-Chair, asked in the House of Lords what assessment has been made by the Government on the misuse of weapons in Yemen potentially leading to loss of civilian life aside from Saudi assurances. In reply the Lord Grimstone of Boscobel said ‘The assessments we make are very much our own assessments, led by specialist people who are expert in these matters.’

Read the full question here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2020-07-10/debates/D4005E25-ACF5-43A1-B4E1-9C25062B4F87/details#contribution-33F4624D-E67B-4264-B907-5C1DF454A6CC

 

 

 

 

Debate:

 

APPG on Drones and Modern Conflict Chair participates in a debate on investigation special forces and UK personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan

 

7th January, 2020

Stewart McDonald MP, APPG on Drones and Modern Conflict Co-Chair, participated in a debate on the joint investigation by The Sunday Times and BBC Panorama on special forces and UK personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan. During the debate Stewart McDonald MP said that the ability of Parliament to hold special forces accountable is woefully lacking in this country’ and that the ‘system needs updating.’

 

Read the full debate here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2020-01-07/debates/4B913D4B-8058-456B-A485-B56C447DE042/UKSpecialForcesIraqAndAfghanistan

 

 

APPG on Drones and Modern Conflict Chair tables Vice-Chair tables debate on strike on Qasem Soleimani and its relation to drones and international law

 

16th January, 2020

Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, APPG on Drones and Modern Conflict Vice-Chair, tabled in a debate in the House of Lords to ask the Government what implications the drone strike on General Soleimani has had on use of drones. Following the debate, the Group also placed an op-ed in the House magazine/Politics Home following the debate. The Group’s Co-Chair, Baroness Stern, and Vice-Chair, Baroness Smith of Newnham, also participated in the debate.

 

Read the full debate here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/lords/2020-01-16/debates/A12A5FDB-E393-4C10-91CF-C88CBB51C78B/DronesInternationalLaw

 

 

 

 

Legislation:

 

APPG on Drones and Modern Conflict Co-Chair’s contribution to the debate on the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel And Veterans) Bill

 

Stewart McDonald MP, Co-Chair of the APPG on Drones and Modern Conflict, participated in the debate on the Overseas Operations (Service Personnel And Veterans) Bill  and made a number of speeches against the Bill. Stewart McDonald MP argued that ‘The Bill makes no provision whatsoever for an independent investigative body or for reporting accountability mechanisms of the kind that would help to address the historical claims that I believe we all want to address.’

 

Baroness Smith of Newnham, Vice-Chair of the APPG on Drones and Modern Conflict, also participated in the debate on the bill in the House of Lords.

 

In combating the Bill, the Group authored three written briefings, a legal summary and a document fact-checking government messaging tailored for different political audiences.

 

Read the full speeches by Stewart McDonald MP here: 

 

Read the question asked by Baroness Smith of Newnham here (20th July 2020):

https://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2020-07-20/debates/3746196E-EFCF-4639-91BC-2D997F50E14A/details#contribution-6E47C29D-8B3E-4402-8869-4B392652C2CD

 

 

APPG on Drones and Modern Conflict’s contribution to amending the Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill

 

The Covert Human Intelligence Sources Bill contained concerns that it undermined civilian protection and international law. The Group engaged with Parliamentarians to amend the Bill providing written briefings and tabling probing amendments via the Group’s Vice-Chair, Lord Hodgson of Astley Abbotts, to ensure the protection needs of civilians overseas were not overlooked in parliamentary debate. The Group’s Vice-Chair, Alex Sobel MP, also took part in the debate on the bill in the House of Commons where he said ‘Without serious amendments to the Bill, we are looking at a toxic combination of a state licence to commit human rights abuses…’.

 

Read the full speeches and amendments by Lord Hodgson here: 


Read the full speech by Alex Sobel MP here (15th October, 2020): https://hansard.parliament.uk/Commons/2020-10-15/debates/ADEDB9E4-6D5F-4445-9971-D9F239FED9BD/details#contribution-8160C3A0-E9E7-4106-9412-FDB413D78B6D

 

 

 

 

Submissions to Committee Inquiries:

 

Submission to the Defence Committee Inquiry into the Integrated Security, Defence and Foreign Policy Review

 

1st May, 2020

The Defence Committee Inquiry sought to answer how the Government should carry out the Integrated Security, Defence and Foreign Policy Review by looking at previous reviews of the UK’s security and defence.

 

The Group’s submission underlines the necessity for the Integrated Review to be truly holistic and sufficiently broad in scope; extended in its time frame; ensure real effectiveness; and guarantee widespread participation.

 

Read more about the submission here: http://appgdrones.org.uk/appg-on-drones-written-submission-to-defence-committee-published/

 

 

APPG on Drones and Modern Conflict Written Submission to the Foreign Affairs Committee’s Inquiry into the FCO and the Integrated Review

 

23rd October, 2020

The APPG on Drones and Modern Conflict submission to the Foreign Affairs Committee’s inquiry report into the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office set out that the Integrated Review is aimed at providing clarity and a decisive agenda for protecting UK citizens, exerting UK influence, and shaping global affairs in an increasingly uncertain world. As such, its starting point must be a rigorous assessment of UK interests and ambitions across departments. 

 

This will allow the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) – now Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) – to articulate a clear and holistic foreign policy baseline and long-term vision for action that focuses on tackling root causes of insecurity and vulnerability.

 

Read more about the submission here: http://appgdrones.org.uk/appg-drones-written-submission-to-the-foreign-affairs-committees-inquiry-into-the-fco-and-the-integrated-review/

 

 

APPG on Drones and Modern Conflict Written Submission to the Public Bill Committee on the Overseas Operations Bill

 

23rd October, 2020

The APPG on Drones and Modern Conflict submission to the Public Bill Committee on the Overseas Operations Bill argued that the logic, scope and intentions underpinning the Bill is deeply flawed and recommends that the Bill is paused and redrafted to address the root cause of the problem: flawed investigations.

 

Read more about the submission here: http://appgdrones.org.uk/appg-drones-written-submission-to-the-public-bill-committee-on-the-overseas-operations-bill/

 

 

 

APPG on Drones and Modern Conflict Written Submission to the Joint Committee on Human Rights’s Inquiry into the Overseas Operation Bill

 

29th October, 2020

The APPG on Drones and Modern Conflict submission to the Joint Committee on Human Right’s Inquiry into the Overseas Operation Bill showed that due to the inadequacy of the MoD’s system for investigating allegations, many investigations have been repeated leading to issues in the justice system. 

 

Read the inquiry here:

https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/3191/documents/39059/default/